The annals of history are filled with the wreckage of gaming consoles, their darkling masoleums* lit only dimly in the candle of nostalgia. The barriers to entry are such that even being in the right place at the right time is insufficient; would-be contenders must achieve both of these prerequisites and secure the funding of a multi-million dollar corporation. Despite such difficulties, there's a new face in the PC/HDTV gaming market and an intriguing new service launching in the next few weeks.
The microconsole is about the same size as an iPhone
Newcomer OnLive, which launched its streaming game service this past summer
, has designed what they call a microconsole (the name is apt), paired it with an XBox-style wireless controller, and are offering the controller, console, and a free game for $99. According to the company, games are playable on any PC or HDTV that meets their minimum requirements (a 3Mbit connection is required for SD gaming, 720P / HD gaming requires 5Mbit).
The game library is fairly small, at 40 titles, but includes Batman: Arkham Asylum, Mafia II, World of Goo, Trine, and Borderlands. OnLive isn't exactly gunning for the XBox 360, PS3, or Wii, but the company's minimalist approach and streaming content could represent the future of gaming. Assuming OnLive managed to build its microconsole and controller for under $99 the company stands to make a profit on every unit sold. We've already seen companies demo streaming games; OnLive might be on the cutting edge of product delivery.